Well, despite the score it wasn't exactly a sparkling contest, but the New England Patriots found themselves with a three point Super Bowl win for the third time in four years. For those of you keeping score at home, yes, that qualifies as "dynasty". Troy Aikman, one of the FOX commentators at the game, was right on when he pronounced the Pats' achievement to be even more remarkable than that of his own Cowboys who won the Super Bowl in the '92, '93, and '95 seasons. The Patriots have proven to be the masters of the free agency era, with better scouting, signing, coaching, and cap management than any other team in the league.
Tonight's game definitely had its moments. With the score tied at the end of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarters, it was almost surprising given the Patriots recent Super Bowl history that it didn't end on an Adam Vinatieri field-goal with just seconds left on the clock. Rather, it finished with Rodney Harrison intercepting Donovan McNabb for the second time, clinching the Pats' victory and effectively making sure that Eagles WR Freddie Mitchell will never trash-talk an opponents' secondary ever again.
Patriots WR Deion Branch had a terrific day, setting a Super Bowl record for catches with 11, and most definitely deserved his MVP nod. But the surprise performance of the day came from Eagles WR Terrell Owens, who put injury and controversy aside to have a great game. T.O. was playing for the first time in seven weeks and against his doctor's advice, yet still managed to rack up nine catches for 122 yards. Either the severity of his ankle was overstated, or T.O.'s rehab efforts were remarkable and make me scared to think what he could have done injury-free.
While Terrell Owens turned in an inspiring performance for Philly, the erratic play of QB Donovan McNabb cost the Eagles the game. Frequently overthrowing or underthrowing open receivers, making poor decisions in the field, and having terrible clock management is a sure-fire recipe for losing the Super Bowl. McNabb was sacked four times and, clearly rattled by the pressure, threw three costly interceptions. Despite his three TD passes, his performance in this game will be lumped in with his sub-par play in the Eagles' three consecutive NFC championship game losses prior to this year.
Meanwhile, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick can go back to being the toast of the media, eccentricities and all. Belichick, who had an awful tenure in his previous head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns in the mid-90s, now has more playoff wins than the great Vince Lombardi. As many chagrined Browns fans can tell you, Belichick will now undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest coaches of all time.
Aside from the gridiron action, the Super Bowl is also a time to celebrate expensive TV advertisements, and this year was no exception. Among the offerings of the companies that shelled out $2 million+ for 30 seconds of air time were a number of good commercials, not many bad ones, but really none spectacular. P. Diddy's Diet Pepsi spot was funny and clever, MC Hammer gave us a blast from the past with two self-deprecating appearances, Brad Pitt was boring in a Heineken ad, monkeys ran amok in a series of plugs for some website called CareerBuilder.com, Budweiser had its standard fare, etc. Yet there were certainly no commercials to spark a new catch phrase (remember "whasssup?"--seems like ages ago), nothing to discuss excitedly on Monday Morning at the ol' water cooler. Personally I think the best part of the advertising orgy was that, thankfully, only one E.D. ad ran. Remember folks, "erections lasting longer than four hours, though rare, require immediate medical help."
One final note, after the hullabaloo surrounding last year's halftime festivities revealed that Janet Jackson did, in fact, have a nipple, the NFL went to extra lengths to make sure there would not be another scandal this year. Hence, bring in 60-something ex-Beatle Paul McCartney for good, wholesome, family-friendly entertainment. And guess what? It worked. The fireworks-fueled "Live and Let Die" was off the hook, and this halftime show was among the best in recent years. Bravo, Sir Paul!
And now that the Super Bowl is over, one commercial reminds us that "we're all undefeated." Undoubtedly Bill Belichick has now exhausted his yearly quota for smiles, and will be back to work, grumpy as ever, by sunrise. With the Patriots' offensive coordinator Charlie Weis defecting to become the head coach at Notre Dame and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel leaving for the Browns' vacancy, the Patriots may lose a step next year. But until anyone else proves otherwise, New England remains the cream of the crop. Happy offseason, everyone!